Marc Pocan: House, Senate Introduce the Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act
Marc Pocan | Jul 19, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Andrew Garbarino (NY-02) and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the “Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act,” bipartisan and bicameral legislation which would reauthorize Helen Keller National National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults (HKNC) for five years through 2028.
HKNC provides essential vocational training and rehabilitation to the DeafBlind community across the United States. The Helen Keller National Center Reauthorization Act would allow for Congress to continue funding the Center from 2024 through 2028 by means of the Appropriations process.
“The Helen Keller National Center has a long history of supporting DeafBlind people nationwide, providing them with opportunities to take an active role in their local communities,” said Representative Pocan. “For over 50 years, the Center has been an invaluable resource and solid foundation for DeafBlind Americans across the nation and in my home state of Wisconsin. I’m proud to join my colleagues and lead this effort to reauthorize the Center for five more years so this beneficial work can continue to shape the lives of so many.”
“The Helen Keller National Center, headquartered on Long Island, provides essential rehabilitation and vocational training to members of the DeafBlind community across the country,” said Representative Garbarino. “With the help of the HKNC, DeafBlind Americans are able to receive the support, training, and resources to achieve their goals and thrive as productive members of society. I am proud to support the funding of the HKNC once again and I thank Congressman Pocan and Senator Gillibrand for their leadership on this issue.”
“For over 50 years, the Helen Keller National Center has provided critical support services and resources to the DeafBlind community in New York and across the country,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues in this effort to reauthorize this vital center and ensure that members of the DeafBlind community continue to receive the support to fully participate in their communities.”
“I admire the important work that the Helen Keller National Center is doing to empower our deaf and blind community in Kansas and across the country. The HKNC does an excellent job providing crucial resources and services to help each member achieve their dreams,” Senator Marshall said. “Our bipartisan legislation reauthorizes these centers and provides much-needed certainty to the members of the HKNC.”
Since it was first authorized by Congress in 1967, HKNC has established national services with regional offices based in California, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Arizona, and Washington. It has additionally created two Community Services programs in New York and California and has deployed 12 DeafBlind Employment Specialist positions across the country that provide additional assistance and support to DeafBlind persons in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan/Ohio, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, and Arkansas. HKNC has also deployed three Youth services Coordinators in Utah, New York, and Illinois. HKNC’s goal is to deploy 20 DeafBlind Employment Specialists (two in each region) and to establish two additional Community Service Programs.
HKNC is the only comprehensive national program that provides information, referral, support, and training exclusively to youths and adults who have combined vision and hearing loss. The Center also supports the families and professionals who work with the DeafBlind community.